Becky LaBarre, executive director of Renfrew Museum and Park, located in Waynesboro, PA, joined the Practical Preservation Podcast to discuss the site, as well as special Christmas events. We covered multiple topics, including:

  • Becky’s background, including how growing up near Greenfield Village sparked her early interest in History and Preservation
  • The history and preservation story of Renfrew, including the phenomenal woman who started it all, Emma Nicodemus 
  • Highlights of Renfrew Museum and Park, such as the house museum, bank barn converted to visitor’s center, extensive John Bell pottery exhibit, and 107 preserved acres culminating in a comprehensive Pennsylvania German Heritage Site
  • Unique events, from hearth cooking classes to Christmas on the Farm
  • Challenges and trends for house museums, including declining attendance over the past decade, as well as limitations of COVID, and distinctive approaches for addressing these such as experiential, living history events

 

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Becky highlighted the importance of getting to historic and cultural heritage sites in person to get a truly immersive experience. Currently, Renfrew offers events such as hearth cooking classes seasonally, and Christmas on the Farm December 4, 5, and 6, 2020 (tickets may be purchased online or at the gate day of) with COVID-friendly measures in place.

However, if you prefer not to visit or attend events with others, you may visit the park and hike (for free!) or attend virtual events, typically listed on their Facebook events page, here.

Dominique Hawkins, founder and managing principal of Preservation Design Partnership based in Philadelphia, PA, joined the Practical Preservation Podcast to discuss flood mitigation in historic areas. We covered multiple topics, including:

  • Dominique’s background in design, architecture, and historic preservation, including her early career transition from architecture for housing developments to the world of historic preservation, and her appreciation for the technology involved in saving old places
  • Preservation Design Partnership’s purpose for acting as a voice for clients in figuring out the most sympathetic way to achieve clients’ goals, while also meeting regulatory requirements and historic preservation needs 
  • Dominique’s reasons for working in flood mitigation, including working on projects directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina
  • How translating preservation design guidelines for clients prepared her for flood mitigation planning, by bridging the gap and interpreting the language of all involved parties – from preservationists, to FEMA, to floodplain managers, to clients
  • The methodology of flood mitigation problem-solving: determining flood needs first and tailoring approaches to each individual situation
  • The myriad of challenges – namely, the collective minimalization and (in some cases) total disregard for the severe impact of increased flooding on historic places – and the hard choices that are being made reactively rather than proactively by communities to address these

 

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For individuals, agencies, or communities interested in working with Preservation Design Partnership, read more about their services and notable projects, here

Dominique also advocates for individuals and communities to become aware, engaged, and proactive regarding flood mitigation for historic properties and communities, especially via meaningful conversations. To see examples or get involved, view a previous talk hosted by the New Jersey Climate Change Resource Center’s Climate Change Academy, here, and keep a look out for upcoming Fall workshops and talks, here

Communities and other organizations can also read a sample flood mitigation plan compiled in part by Preservation Design Partnership, here

April C. Thomas, proprietor and sole designer of Fashions Revisited, and Director of the Historic Foodways Program for the Northern York County Historical and Preservation Society (NYCHAPS) in Dillsburg, PA, joined the Practical Preservation Podcast to discuss her fashion business and the foodways program. We covered multiple topics, including:

  • April’s background, including growing up working at local historical sites in the Chadds Ford area, and starting hearth cooking herself when she was 7 years old
  • Her foray into the historical reproduction clothing fashion business over 20 years ago – including creating and providing accurate patterns for sale – in addition to ready-made and custom-made clothing
  • The history of NYCHAPS, Dill’s Tavern, and her foodways program there
  • Well-known projects from Fashions Revisited, including film and TV – most notably, April created the dress for Caroline Goodall’s Martha Washington in Mt. Vernon Visitor Center’s Imax Theater’s “We Fight to be Free
  • Memorable highlights from the foodways program – April and Dill’s tavern staff and historians were featured on an episode of A Taste of History
  • How continuing these traditions preserves an essential part of our collective heritage
  • Challenges maintaining authenticity with modern materials and mindsets, as well as trends that emerge in the historical reproduction clothing world

 

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April typically is involved in workshops and other events, but due to COVID this year, these will be delayed – follow her events page and other sites mentioned above to stay tuned to future options, and explore her items for sale!

In the meantime, April recommends looking into events at Dill’s Tavern and NYCHAPS, including their Oktoberfest this week, and the Colonial Market & Fair at Mt. Vernon next week!